A Pro Cyclist’s Guide to the Best Rides—and Tacos—in Los Angeles

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People think of Los Angeles as a car city. Everyone drives everywhere. But Andrew Jackson thinks of it as a cyclist’s city. Jackson, 33, has lived in L.A. since he was ten, and he grew up riding bikes with his brother, Eliot, who went on to become a World Cup downhill mountain-bike racer and found the Grow Cycling Foundation, which promotes access to cycling for all.

Jackson became a pro cyclist, too: his bike career has spanned nearly every discipline on two wheels. He started out riding dirt bikes and was a Kawasaki-sponsored racer by age 16. When a bad crash sent him into a coma, he eventually left the motocross scene and started riding BMX bikes, going pro, sticking with it for a decade, and filming BMX street videos around the world, from China to Europe to South America. Lately, he’s gotten into road biking and gravel racing, and he says Los Angeles is a perfect place to train.

“People say they want to escape the city and get out,” Jackson says. “But I like riding in the city, going through downtown, getting up into the hills. There’s so much to see.” These are some of his favorite places to roam, get his bike tuned, and pick up sushi or pizza afterward.

An Ideal Bike Ride

Spectacular sunset from Griffith ark, Los Angeles.
(Photo: www.ferpectshotz.com/Getty)

“I live downtown, so I try to get to the hills around where I live,” Jackson says. “Elysian Park and Griffith Park are two of my favorite places to go. Living in the city, it’s busy. But you can get up to these parks to get away from that. Griffith is gated, so there are no cars. It’s a big mountain, and you can loop it in all different directions. My usual loop is 35 miles between Elysian Park and Griffith Park, and I barely see any cars.”

A Scenic Public Park

“I have a one-year-old son, so I often take him to Albion Riverside Park, near where we live,” Jackson says. “It’s big and overlooks the city.”

Jackson’s Neighborhood

“L.A. has all these different neighborhoods that make up greater Los Angeles, and they all have their own feel. If you want Mexican food, go to East L.A. If you want to eat somewhere fancy, go to West Hollywood,” Jackson says. “My favorite neighborhood is my own—Pico-Aliso, on the Boyle Heights side of downtown. It’s a cool warehouse district, part of the textile industry, with all these warehouses that overlook the Los Angeles River. You get this amazing view of downtown, but it’s empty and chill. You can get away from the hustle and bustle. I’m usually on my dirt bike doing wheelies and nobody bothers me.”

A Top Skate Park

Belvedere Skatepark, in East L.A., is flowy and big,” says Jackson. “It’s a massive concrete park with two bowls and street features. It has lights, so you can stay there until dark. I ride my BMX bike there all the time.”

His Go-To Bike Shop

 

“It’s called the Cub House, and it’s in Pasadena. Their Instagram handle is @itsnotabikeshop, which I appreciate. They’re in the scene for riders,” Jackson says. “On the other side of it, there’s a plant shop. The owner, Sean, is really cool, and there’s a bike mechanic named Simon who’s great. But they all work on my bike and get it dialed in.”

Tacos Worth Stopping For

“I get tacos at Cha Cha Chili in the El Sereno neighborhood. It’s Korean-Mexican fusion, so you can get bulgogi tacos,” Jackson says. “You can sit at the couple of seats they have out front, but it’s more like a stand, a place you grab food and go.”

A Perfect Pizza Place

 

“All the people who work at Purgatory Pizza, near downtown are cool, and the pizza is good,” Jackson says. “I get the Buffalo Soldier, which is a buffalo-chicken pizza with cream sauce and green onions. So good.”

Market Mecca

“I live next to Little Tokyo, so I like to go to the Japanese markets, where I can get good sushi for cheap,” Jackson says. “There’s one called Marukai Market, which has really fresh fish for sushi or sashimi.”

Where to Catch Some Urban Respite

“Downtown, there’s this big, empty, lit-up tunnel under Grand Street, which is busy with bars and museums,” Jackson says. “It’s a cool place to go in a loud city for a moment of quiet.”

A Weekend Detour

Drone shot of the Angeles Crest mountains.
(Photo: Spiderplay/Getty)

“On the weekends, I like to ride my bike up the Angeles Crest Highway to Mount Wilson. Round-trip it’s about an 80-mile ride from the city,” Jackson says. “You could drive up there, too, and go see the San Gabriel Mountains. But I like to go by bike—it’s a nice way to get away, to see the city in the background, and the air is clear up there.”



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